Annihilation and Ex Machina creator Alex Garland’s latest project, a limited series on FX called Devs, has been completely shrouded in mystery since its announcement with only a precious few promotional image and a vague plot synopsis made available. We’ve known it’s about a character named Lily (Sonoya Mizuno) who suspects her boyfriend’s employer–a mysterious tech company–may be behind his murder. As far as the details are concerned, that’s about all we’ve had.
At least, until now. During a panel and first look presentation at New York Comic-Con, the veil around Devs has finally started to come down–and it looks absolutely incredible. Take a look at the 15 second teaser clip released after the panel.
Far more than 15 seconds were shown at the panel, however. In an extended, NYCC exclusive trailer, we were able to see a character named Segei (Karl Glusman), experiencing his first day on the mysterious “Devs team,” of a company named Amaya. It’s a tech startup in Silicon Valley working in quantum computing run by a man named Forest (Nick Offerman). The look of the company is completely keeping with the aesthetic Garland’s work has established in Ex Machina and Annihilation: Sleekly modern and strangely surreal.
They enter “the cube,” a room suspended in the middle of a larger, gold plated room (a practical set, Garland revealed, with walls covered in actual gold leaf,) through a floating drawbridge. The whole system, Sergei notes, levitates by electromagnets. Inside the cube is the heart of a massive quantum computer, flanked by a team of developers–ranging from an unlikely old man (Stewart, played by Stephen McKinley Henderson) to a child prodigy (Lyndon, played by Cailee Spaeny)–working away at futuristic desktops.
Sergei is lead to his desk and given his duties, such as they are. Forrest explains that the company doesn’t observe weekends, there are no shifts or hours, nothing comes into the Devs department and nothing leaves. Sergei’s job is to sit and read code, and he’ll figure out what to do from there, Forest is sure of it.
The scene then dovetailed into a teaser, featuring a rapid fire barrage of clips from the rest of the season–corpses on fire, a strange and lushly green field filled with a grid of strange golden pillars, a forest of massive trees each ringed with neon halos, isolated and brutalistic building, densely populated cities.
So, what does any of this mean? Garland offered some insights during the panel’s Q&A portion.
“This show started with two things. One was getting my head around the principal of determinism, which says that everything that happens in the world is based on cause and effect,” he explained. “That has all sorts of implications for us–for one thing it takes away free will. The other thing was quantum computers — reductively you could say they’re just spectacularly powerful computers.”
He continued. “It’s a simple idea. It’s that nothing random or spontaneous ever happens. That implies a deterministic universe. If you roll a marble across a table, in a deterministic universe, you’d know exactly where it would stop and how hard it was pushed.”
Amaya is working with quantum computing in an effort to explore those deterministic ideas, believing that if those theoretical principles are true, it would be possible to create a computer strong enough to calculate every possible variable for every possible event to the most minute detail, which would allow anyone with access to the computer to not only predict the future, but also examine the past.
Devs will run for 8 episodes, all written and directed by Garland, on FX. It is scheduled to premier in 2020.